Archive for March, 2014

What’s In a Name

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 21, 2014 by ofherbsandaltars

Norman had many reasons to regret a certain night of his life, but equally, sometimes it felt as though his whole life had been building up to that one, disastrous crescendo. At the heart of it, he blamed his parents, blamed them with a thick black hatred that clogged his heart like oozing, cancerous tar. The decision that ruined his life had been made even before Norman was born, when he was nothing more than a peaceful little foetus, bobbing gently in the warm fluids of his mother’s womb. As he floated languidly in that uterine embrace, slowly sprouting delicate earlobes, he had been blissfully oblivious to his parents’ discussions, the muffled rumblings of their speech that reached him through those protective fleshy walls. And in the world outside, his parents had also been wholly unaware of the curse they were placing on their own flesh and blood, their first and only child. To them, ‘Norman’ had seemed like a good name for a young boy, a solid, sensible sort of name, and apart from anything, it was a family name, taken from an upstanding and long dead ancestor. And so, when that warm little foetus came slithering out into the world, wet and pink and bemused, he was wrapped in a fluffy white towel, and as he latched onto his mother’s nipple for the very first time, the paperwork was signed, and Norman became his name.

As Norman grew up into a chubby, bespectacled boy, his name began to feel like a noose around his neck, like an infestation of vile black mould, feasting on his soul. The kids at school would always pronounce it in mocking tones, in a bored, nasal drawl, and to all the girls he was laughable, untouchable, far beneath the cool boys with their spiky hair, their spiky names, Zak and Alek and Jax. He saw the girls scribbling down those spiky, sexy names, circling them with little red hearts, and the boys wore their names like badges of honour, like designer labels, like diamonds on their souls.

On late night TV shows Norman watched sex scenes, watched girls moaning out their lover’s names, Paul and Pete and Stefan and Flynn, and not once could he imagine his own ghastly name being pronounced with so much lust. He spent hours lying awake, trying to wrangle those two ungainly syllables into something that worked, but the name was resilient, unbreakable – Norm was just as bad, Nor was ridiculous, and even N alone sounded like an uncertain, mumbling stutter. The more he thought about it, the more he would fester in his own resentment, convinced that everything wrong in his life was due to his hideous, ugly name. At museums and amusement parks, the gift shops were filled with keyrings giving the meaning of a person’s name, but Norman could never find his, and he was pretty sure that he knew why. A person’s name shaped his life, his personality, his very fate, and nothing good could ever come from ‘Norman’, nothing that could be written in flowing italic script on the back of a keyring – that much he knew for sure.

When Norman left home at 24, he decided that it was finally time to cut loose this millstone from his neck. He was out in the world now, his own man, and if he really wanted to shape his own destiny, he had to begin with the terrible name that had chafed at his soul since the day he was born. For weeks he searched the internet, spending night after night hunched over the cold glow of his laptop, subsisting on takeaway pizza and bitter coffee as he hunted ceaselessly for a name. And not just any name, but the perfect name, a name that oozed confidence and sex appeal, a name that would turn him into the man he should have been all along – a name that would shape his soul and his destiny until the day he died. Soon Norman had an extensive list of names – powerful names like Dimitri and Titus, Alpha and Ace, Heath and Legend and Tyson and Zeus. But as the list grew and grew, Norman felt horribly overwhelmed by the notion of such an earth-shattering commitment – he was well aware of the mockery, judgement and awkwardness he would have to face, when he strode into work and declared his new name, and as such, he had to be certain to his very core that the name – this name, was the perfect one for him.

After nearly six months of tireless searching, Norman stared into the mirror at 3am, a bottle of vodka in one hand and the list in the other, saying the names out loud as he scrutinised his reflection, trying desperately to find a name that fit, a name he could wear like a diamond on his soul. But as he got drunker and drunker, the image in the mirror only became more horrific to him, his chubby pink face and baby-blonde hair, his t-shirt stained with ketchup, clinging to his bulging gut, and a horrible realisation hit him. The slouched, overweight abomination that he saw in the mirror could never wear the mantle of these names, these glorious powerful names – it would be as laughable as placing an emerald tiara on a loathsome slug, as serving a donner kebab on a platinum plate. Norman burst into tears, his own ghastly reflection blurring into a pinkish smudge, and he crawled into bed with his vodka bottle, screwing the list into a tiny ball and hurling it across the room.

For two weeks, Norman dwelt beneath a heavy black cloud of misery and self-loathing, marinating in the awful certainty that he could never escape this curse. Norman was his name, and now that he had lived beneath its awful banner for 25 years, its insidious poison had seeped into the very marrow of his bones, until he was as ugly and boring and loathsome as his ugly loathsome name. But then, in the third week of Norman’s misery, he stumbled across an advert for Weight Watchers, as he sat at his desk, munching Doritos, and he paused mid-chew, frowning thoughtfully at the picture of the slim, beaming woman. Next to her was a blurred photo of a rotund, leering hag, the past-self that she had bravely shed, and Norman felt a strange tingle of excitement erupt inside his chest. This woman had changed, and perhaps he could change too! Perhaps he could still become worthy of those powerful, sexy names! He leapt to his feet, tossed the Doritos into the bin, and strode purposefully into the bathroom. In the water-spotted mirror he scrutinised his reflection, turning this way and that, examining every angle. If he lost his gut and shed an extra chin, it would be a great improvement. His baby-blonde hair was still thick and lustrous, and it could be dyed black or brown. His height was more than adequate, and as Norman calculated these facts, he felt the misery fall way. He didn’t need to be a Norman forever – he could still be free of this curse! His eyes sparkling with glee, he ran back to his desk, and Googled the local gym.

It took the better part of a year before Norman considered himself worthy of a new and powerful name. He had lost three stone, dyed his hair mahogany brown and styled it into a modern, cutting-edge coif. He ate chicken breasts and broccoli, salmon and salads and stirfries, did sit-ups in front of the TV and spent the evenings admiring his emerging six-pack, flexing his muscles and trying on tight, sleeveless t-shirts. Finally, Norman was ready for a new name, a name he was now worthy to wear like a mantle of shimmering gold. He had found the scrunkled remnants of his list, and he spent days poring over it, whittling it down to a shortlist of twenty contenders. For the next few months he tried out each name for several days, wearing it silently in his mind, testing it out and breaking it in like a pair of brand new shoes. Some of the names felt wrong, but most of them felt right, and by the end of four more months he had made no further progress. Sixteen names remained, and the agony of indecision gnawed at him every moment of every day, the terrifying knowledge that he could only pick one name, and then the rest would be discarded forever. Because to Norman, these names were not just names, but the key to his entire destiny. Each name had a life of its own, a fate of its own, and whichever name he chose, it would carry him off like an untamed horse, down an unknown path of unstoppable destiny. And knowing this, how could Norman ever choose? But the thing that Norman didn’t know, was that he was already aboard an untamed horse, still riding wildly towards his terrible fate – the destiny afforded by ‘Norman’.

On a drunken Saturday night, Norman was out with two of his new friends from the gym, and after several rounds he confessed the woes that had been plaguing him for months, the awful deliberations and constant agony, his perpetual quest for a name. As the night wore on, they stumbled out of the pub, making a stop at a late night garage, and stocking up on yet more booze. From there they meandered back to Norman’s house, and after several more shots they began drinking from mugs, and then directly from the bottle. Norman clumsily started up his computer, showed his friends the list of names, now carefully typed up into a Word document, that he might admire their written forms in different fonts and colours. One of his friends pushed him aside, and went instead to Google. Within a few minutes, they had discovered an online form that would easily, and legally, change Norman’s name, for a fairly reasonable fee. But Norman still couldn’t decide, could not settle on a name, and seeing his expression of sadness, his friends resolved that they would help. The three of them would stay up all night, would drink every drop of vodka they possessed, in a mighty quest for wisdom. At the bottom of a bottle of Smirnoff, Norman would find his name, and no one was going to sleep, no one was going to give up, until Norman had found his name.



The next day, Norman couldn’t remember much about the night before, and neither could his friends. One of them was loudly vomiting into the kitchen sink, the other, in a display of his superior constitution, was devouring a bowl of scrambled eggs, using his credit card as a spoon. They spent the afternoon staring vacantly at the football, before Norman’s guests went stumbling and groaning out into the night, and he headed directly to bed. It was two days before the after-effects of that one, fateful night became known to him. When Norman came home from work, he turned on the TV, and sat down to open the mail, as he always did. Inside an official-looking envelope from Lloyds Bank, he found a brand new debit card, which was addressed to Mr Spermicide C Jizzflannel. Norman stared at it in bemusement for several seconds, until the events of that one, terrible night came shuddering back to him, and his eyes widened with horror.

At around 5 o’ clock in the morning, he had still been unable to decide, so his friends had begun teasing him with sillier and sillier choices. Soon they were all roaring with drunken laughter, and it had begun to seem the pinnacle of sparkling genius to give Norman this new name, this creative name, this unique and memorable name which would serve as a perfect icebreaker, a party piece and immortal drunken tale for the rest of his wondrous life! So certain were they, in that strange 5am moment, of the brilliance of their idea, that Norman had typed in the name himself, checked it several times for errors, and hit the big red button, to much laughter and cheering from his friends. But now, in the cold light of day, he was considerably less delighted with his new and legally-binding name.

When Norman went into work the following morning, his boss pulled him aside and summoned him into his office. He too had received paperwork regarding Norman’s official change of name, and it turned out that his mysterious middle initial now stood for ‘Cockslop’. Mr Spermicide Cockslop Jizzflannel, was Norman’s new and grandiose title, and his boss was far from impressed. Normal tried to explain that it had been a moment of drunken weakness, but his boss refused to accept this excuse. He was a deeply Christian man, of rather advanced years, and this shameless display of vulgar profanity was something he could not possibly tolerate. He firmly refused to process any payments to an account in the name of S.C Jizzflannel, and as such, this constituted a gross misdemeanour. Norman was fired on the spot.

As soon as he got home, Norman Cockslop Jizzflannel threw himself into internet research, in a desperate attempt to undo what had been done, but when he finally managed to speak to the relevant person, he was informed that changing a person’s name required a lot of paperwork, and to change his name again immediately would be quite utterly impossible. When he had clicked that big red button he had automatically agreed to their terms and conditions, which stipulated in no uncertain language that these things were not to be undertaken lightly, and as such, their hands were tied. At the bare minimum it would take two months to process a second name change, and as for his debit card, he would have to take that up personally with his bank manager. Norman hung up the phone, opened a bottle of vodka, and sank into bleak despair.

For the next two months, Norman suffered endless iniquities due to his obscene and terrible name. When he phoned up the jobcentre to sign on the dole, they hung up the phone on him, three times over, until he was forced to go in person, to explain his unique and ghastly situation. In the eyes of the stern woman at the desk, he could see a bottomless sneering contempt, combined with the strong conviction that Norman-Spermicide was a deranged and dangerous lunatic. After explaining at great length that his name was being retracted as soon as humanly possible, they finally allowed him to sign on, but finding a job was hopeless. He wrote ‘Norman’ on his applications, and even passed one interview, but as soon as his P45 was delivered to his new employer, declaring in official block capitals MR SPERMICIDE COCKSLOP JIZZFLANNEL, all Norman’s hopes were violently dashed.

Every time Norman bought food at Tesco, every time he filled up his car or bought vodka from the off-license, he was reminded of the ruination of his life by that awful gleaming debit card, and he lived in perpetual dread of the server reading his name. For seven weeks Norman dwelled in misery and fear, hiding in his house and trying to ignore the dark shadows that lurked around his soul, the awful, horrifying knowledge that the name branded upon his fate was now Spermicide Cockslop Jizzflannel. Soon he found himself desperately longing for his old name, his old life – to return to the comfort and familiarity of ‘Norman’.

On the eighth week of his exile, he was finally contacted by the woman he had previously spoken to, informing him that his change of name was ready to be processed, and he was politely asked what he would like his name to be this time. For a brief moment, those glorious, powerful names flashed through Norman’s head, Axel and Brody and Hercules and Zephyr, but after seven weeks of misery, of living inside a demented and ill-fitting name, the idea of donning those strange, glittering mantles seemed fraught with unknown danger. And so, in the end, he went right back to Norman – it was, after all, a sensible sort of name.



Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 18, 2014 by ofherbsandaltars

I always dread that moment, when I meet a new person, and they ask about my job. It’s the worst on first dates, or on those rare occasions when I’m on a real winning streak at the club. I’ve had a few beers, shot a couple of tequilas, I’m wearing a brand new shirt and I’m feeling pretty good – so good, in fact, that when I offer to buy a pretty girl a drink, she accepts right away. I tell her my name, she tells me her name, and I strike up a conversation. Maybe I even make her laugh, maybe she even says “You’re such a funny guy, Jake!”. But sooner or later, it always comes around to that dreaded question – “So Jake, what do you do?” And then I have to tell her the truth. And after that, she thinks I’m really, really weird. Because the answer to that question is, “Well Suzie, I’m a proctologist! I, Suzie, am a card carrying, rubber glove-snapping, fully certified butthole doctor!” And once I say that, it goes one of two ways. If I’m lucky, Suzie is drunk, and all she hears is ‘doctor’, and her eyes get this manic glitter in them, and all of a sudden I don’t have to try anymore, she’s the one making me laugh, and asking me questions, and letting me talk about whatever damn subject pops into my mind, and behind those wide, glittering eyes I can see the neon signs flashing up “HEY MOM, I GOT ME A DOCTOR!”

But more often, it goes the other way. There’s this brief moment where she thinks I’m joking, but pretty soon she realises that I’m not, and about two seconds after that, she’s convinced that I’m a pervert. I can see her thinking it – Oh Lawd, I can’t be going home with THIS guy, freakin’ ass-pervert, I ain’t having no anal sex on the first date, I ain’t that kinda girl, and even if I was, I ate at Taco Bell on the way over here, lord only knows what might happen if he came in through the back door! Hell NO, Suzie, this guy, he WEIRD… And then she drinks her drink very quickly, and disappears off to the little girls’ room, never to be seen again.

But sometimes, on that very, very rare occasion, there’s a reaction that’s somewhere between the two extremes – she watches me with a curious frown, and she asks me why? Why d’you wanna be a butt doctor? Why d’you wanna stare at butts all day, poking your fingers all up inside other people’s butts? You went to medical school, same as all the rest, right? So why didn’t you become a plastic surgeon or a dentist, or an ENT guy or something? Why you so interested in butts? And, well, the answer to that just depends on how many tequila shots I’ve had. Tonight I’ve had quite a few, so I guess I might as well be honest, right here and now.

The first time I ever really noticed a butthole, or a rectum, as it’s known in the trade, I was on a ranch riding holiday with my folks, must’ve been about ten years old. And as I was plodding along on this little brown pony called Fred, flies buzzing around my head, the horse in front of us stopped short, and raised its tail right up. And as I watched, its neat little pink butthole spread itself outwards like a wide, yawning mouth, and lumps of dung came sliding out, one after the other, and then that big pink circle just closed right up like the portal of a spaceship, and it was the neatest thing I ever saw in my life.

When I got older, I was pretty sure that I was gay, because I liked buttholes far more than I liked vaginas, except for the little inconvenience that I wasn’t so keen on the guy’s dick and balls dangling around next to it. And if I got as far as fucking them in the butthole, I’d just be getting into it when I realised that their nutsack was bouncing around, bashing into my nutsack, and it put me right off my stroke. So eventually I realised that I wasn’t gay at all, but knowing that just made my life harder, because most of the girls I met weren’t keen on me playing with their buttholes. Once I got into medical school though, it was like the light of heaven, the light of revelation, was finally switched on – I could be a butthole doctor! I could look at buttholes all day, and stick my fingers inside them and stroke the tight little nubs of their softly wrinkled prostates, all day long, and I’d even get paid for it – my life was going to be perfect.

So, after a lot of years learning about all the other boring parts of the body, I finally graduated, and now I get all the buttholes I could ever want. When a man walks into my office, I like to guess what his butthole looks like, whether it’s hairy or not, whether it’s walnut brown or more of a dusky pink, things like that. It’s the best sort of social interaction a person like me could ever ask for, because it doesn’t matter if he likes me, it doesn’t matter how witty I am, or whether I make him laugh – either way, within five minutes of him walking through my door, he drops his pants and I get to meet his butthole. I love that moment when I turn away to snap on the rubber gloves, and then I turn back and he’s bent over, and I scoop up a little greasy dollop of Vaseline, and in we go. You couldn’t believe how hot your fingers feel, delving inside another man’s butthole, and sometimes they’re so damn nervous about it – usually the straight ones – that their butthole bites down on your fingers like the gums of a hungry baby, but as you reach further in, as you brush their prostate, sometimes you feel them shiver, and you know they’re freaking right out, because secretly they’re loving it. The only thing they don’t know, is that I’m loving it too. I’ve got my white coat on, and my sensible glasses and my serious doctor face, but I’ve also got my dick tucked up into my waistband so they can’t see how hard it makes me, being two fingers deep inside their butthole.

So, there you go Suzie, that’s why I’m a butthole doctor. I love my job, and my sex life’s improved too. I get to see so many buttholes during the day that I don’t even mind having sex with vaginas anymore – my head’s just spinning with butthole memories come night time, so it’s really not a problem. I haven’t found the perfect woman yet, but I’m still looking. Maybe she’s here tonight. Maybe she’s right in front of me. Maybe she’s you, Suzie.